Class act needing no explanation


Companhia de Dança Deborah Colker

Birmingham Hippodrome


THE final act of the incredibly successful International Dance Festival Birmingham 2010 was well worth waiting for.

The skill, artistry, athleticism and sheer talent of this Brazilian dance troupe is breathtaking while visually it is stunning. Musically it is a bit patchy in that the music rarely grabbed you and never moved you but then at the same time it never detracted from what was going on on stage and most of the time was just a background rhythm to the wonders unfolding before you. We were told it included music by Dvorak and Ennio Morricone but I never spotted it.

As to what it was all about? That was a bit of a struggle beyond knowing it was about relationships.

The piece falls into three acts. It opens with a giant glowing ball, which must be the world's largest globe lampshade by several yards with the 16 dancers in a ballroom setting, all strictly come dancing until little Miss Wallflower appears and tries to grab her a man causing a bit of aggro.

I picked up on the all female section about pregnancy with eight ladies with stomach cramps throwing up in unison and the gay relationships but started to lose the plot when the ball was replaced by a huge table lit from below which was dragged around the stage as a burden, a weapon, a pedestal or an altar.

The moving table provided a collecting of dances which were at times frantic and at other sensuous and introduced us to five large knives which were sharp enough to stick in wood when thrown.

It all ended in tears though with one of the female dancers having her throat cut – symbolically of course – and one of the male dancers dragging the table tote-that-bale style into the gloom.


The third act, after the interval was all circus. Four huge one sided mirrors, pivoting on huge frames like so many giant shaving mirrors and each mirror holding a large central porthole which could be opened to allow dancers and, at times, bits of dancers to appear.

With all the reflections intermingled with dancers, head, legs and so on appearing through holes, spinning mirrors, constant movement and clever lighting this was a magnificent visual overload attacking the senses. What it was all about I have not a clue but time flew while you watched it.

One particularly clever moment was performed by Danielle Rodrigues straddling the top of a mirror with one leg on a bar on the blind side. It might have been the old Harry Worth trick of using a shop window as a mirror but was still effective as the reflection of her visible leg made it appear she was suspended and swimming in mid air.

I have to be honest and say that most of the symbolism, what it all meant passed me by but then so did the time. No checking watches to see how much longer before you could escape here. You really did not have to understand this one to appreciate it.

The only pity about it was that a stunning piece of contemporary dance from an internationally renowned company did not attract a larger audience. Those who did make the effort were well rewarded and would have clapped and cheered happily well into the night if the house lights not been turned on.

The International Dance Festival Birmingham 2010 by the way has attracted more than 50,000 people it was announced last night, exceeding expectations. 05-10

Roger Clarke


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